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June 30, 1998|LARRY STEWART

What: "Profiles of a Pro: Nancy Lopez"

Where: Golf Channel

When: Tonight, 6:30-7 (Replay, Friday, 7:30 p.m.)

In this era of self-centered, arrogant and aloof athletes, here is a look at a genuine superstar who is also a genuine person, who prides herself at being a good mom, wife and homemaker.

The Golf Channel, which now reaches 17 million homes, has come up with another well-produced, well-researched show in its "Profiles of a Pro" series. You'll like this segment--and you'll like this person.

Lopez was admonished early in her career by Domingo Lopez, her father and mentor, for crying every time she didn't play well. She says he told her, "You know, you can't see the ball if you have tears in your eyes, so you got to quit crying." She took that advice to heart, but during the making of this profile, Lopez breaks downs and cries twice. The first time, she is describing her 16-year marriage to former baseball star Ray Knight.

"Why are you crying?" Knight asks.

"Because I love you so much," she says.

She also cries while describing the emotion of almost winning the U.S. Women's Open last year.

"I think I tried to just absorb everything that was going on because I loved it," she says.

If you don't come away from this show loving Nancy Lopez--or rather Nancy Knight, her legal name--you have no emotion.

Golf Channel goes to the weight room with Lopez, goes into her kitchen, where she loves cooking for her family, goes to one of oldest daughter Ashley's basketball games, and goes outdoors because, at her husband's behest, she has learned to hunt.

Lopez, the New Mexico state amateur champion at 12, took women's golf by storm in 1978 when she was 20. That year she won nine tournaments, five of them consecutively. By 1985, she had earned Hall of Fame status. She now has 48 victories, and she's still around, flashing that unforgettable smile.

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